On paper, Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney was something of a puzzle. The UFC 259 bantamweight scrap was the featured televised prelim, leading into the stacked PPV card. But what was the fight, exactly? Was it a changing of the guard, with Cruz giving some shine to Kenney, part of a new generation of UFC fighters? Was it a tune-up fight for Cruz, after coming up short in a short-notice title fight last year?
A fight’s a fight, at the end of the day, but there’s often times a deeper meaning in terms of divisional relevance, and individual careers. And to that end, Cruz vs. Kenney was brimming with storylines. If Kenney could pull off the win, for one, he could very much capture a career defining moment. But it the end, he fell just short.
Perhaps trying to surprise Kenney, Cruz shot for a takedown early, but was unsuccessful. The ex-champ then landed a kick to the lead leg of Kenney. Kenney landed a spinning kick to the body, and Cruz fired off a head kick, which Kenney ate. A Cruz right hand near the mid-way point of the frame tripped Kenney up momentarily, however. Another right hand would hit home for Cruz, whose footwork was as impressive as ever. Kenney landed a kick to Cruz’s leg, but at least through the opening round, the few leg kicks he landed were not enough to slow Cruz down.
Kenney’s most effective leg kick had come late in round one. In the second frame, Kenney got his kicks going early. Cruz shot for a takedown, but couldn’t land it. A head kick from the future Hall of Famer was blocked. Cruz set up another takedown attempt with a kick; again, the takedown was stuffed. Kenney, meanwhile, was backing Cruz up, and caught him more than once. Cruz, then hit home with his left hand. With 90 seconds remaining in the second round, Cruz moved in with a combination, landing several times. Late in the round, Kenney would look for a standing guillotine, but was nowhere close. Still, he had kept pace with Cruz through two rounds — a win in itself.
Dominick Cruz opened round three with a takedown attempt. While Kenney defended with a guillotine, Cruz just had to wait it out. He’d land some shots to the body, but although Cruz moved to half-guard, Kenney was able to power right up. Still, a strong start to the round, with the possibility of the fight being even after two. Things opened up as the round wore on, with both men landing some clean punches in exchanges. A takedown in the final minute likely secured the round for Cruz — and possibly the fight.
— UFC (@ufc) March 7, 2021
Official Result: Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)